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X Traffic Falls, Introduces $1 Subscription Fee

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CEM REPORT, TECHNOLOGY | Ever since Elon Musk acquired Twitter (now X) there seem to have been more negative than positive outcomes from the social media platform. The drama and decisions of Musk just breed more detachment from the platform by users.

Recent report reveals that traffic on X, formerly Twitter, has declined by 14 per cent year-on-year in September 2023, just a year after the takeover. This technically implies that X is gradually losing its hold as a strong news dependable platform.

Although Elon Musk and X CEO, Linda Yaccarino recently claimed that traffic has increased significantly on the platform, checks by Similarweb indicate otherwise, saving for Musk’s profile which increased traffic by 96 per cent year-over-year in September.


“If Elon Musk wanted to build traffic to his social media profile, surely there must have been a cheaper and easier way. Coming up on a year after his $44 billion purchase of Twitter, recently rebranded as X, traffic to is just about the only positive metric of success we can find,” the report said.

The report by web ranking engine Similarweb, details that September traffic was down 19% in the US, where roughly 25% of’s web traffic originates. Other nations had a comparable, albeit less obvious, trend: -11.6 per cent in the UK, -13.4 per cent in France, -17.9 per cent in Germany, and -17.5 per cent in Australia.

However, X may not be alone in the traffic decline as the report further details a -3.7 per cent year-on-year (September) general decline in the top 100 social networks and communities that Similarweb tracks.

“In aggregate, traffic to the top 100 social networks and communities that Similarweb tracks was down -3.7% year-over-year in September.”

While nothing Musk has done seems to have translated into lasting improvements to compete better against the social networks that are continuing to grow strongly, such as TikTok, for which global web traffic was up 22.8% in September, Musk seems not to abate in his “controversial” decisions.

Recently, the micro-blogging networking site, X, announced a new program that will require new, unverified accounts to sign up for a $1 annual subscription to be able to post and interact with other posts.

Albeit the new programme currently being tested in New Zealand and the Philippines in preparation for its global rollout, does not affect unverified existing users on the platform, new users who opt out of subscribing at the signup stage will only be able to take “read-only” actions, such as reading posts, watching videos, and following accounts.

At signup, new users will be able to select from subscription options of $1 fee, X Premium, or Verified Organizations.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to many since Elon Musk acquired the social networking site at $44 million and should be able to recover his finances, X said the new program was not motivated by profit but to fight spam.

“This new test was developed to bolster our already successful efforts to reduce spam, manipulation of our platform and bot activity while balancing platform accessibility with the small fee amount. It is not a profit driver. And so far, subscription options have proven to be the main solution that works at scale.

“This will evaluate a potentially powerful measure to help us combat bots and spammers on X while balancing platform accessibility with the small fee amount. Within this test, existing users are not affected.”

Last month, Musk while responding to the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu during a live-streamed conversation, that most views being expressed on X are mostly from an ‘army of bots’ Musk hinted at the possibility of charging a fee to use X as the only way to combat vast armies of bots noting that a bot costs a fraction of a penny.

“If somebody has to pay, you know, a few dollars or something, some minor amount, the effective cost of bots is very high. And then you also have to get a new payment method every time you have a new bot. So that actually had the constraint of how many different credit cards you can find even on the dark web or whatever.

“And we’re going to come up with a lower tier pricing. We just want it to be a small amount of money. This is a longer discussion, but in my view, this is actually the only defence against vast armies of bots, because as the AI gets very, very good, it’s able to pass these sorts of CAPTCHA tests better than humans.”

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of X, Linda Yaccarino has maintained strong optimism that the company will become profitable in early 2024. She claims that the time users spend on X has gone up since June. This can be attributed to X’s recent ad revenue sharing program which has geared more users posting to the platform to drive views and engagements to get a share of the ad revenue.

Her confidence in profitability is also hinged on the disclosure that “90% of the top 100 advertisers have returned to the platform in the last twelve weeks alone.”

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